A View From Hockley To Spark Debate!

Brian Guyett has sent us the text that is being used by some residents and local groups for objecting to the Core Strategy.

This might prompt some debate!

“1. The Core Strategy is unsound because proposals to build on the Green Belt have not been properly evaluated and are contrary to government policy. There is no sufficient justification for this variance from government policy.
Para 4.23 of the published Core Strategy states that the Council will prioritise the redevelopment of brownfield sites to minimise green belt release. This is still not the case in the amended proposals under consultation, which results in 67% of new dwellings being sited on greenbelt land and any windfall sites will be too late to save green belt that has already been built on.
The older component of our population is said in the Council Paper to be a block on the release of ?previously owned homes? and yet the Council has no proposals to release the blockage by requiring the provision of smaller homes in developments like Coachman?s Court (Rochford, Sheltered/wardened Flats for over 55?s). If this were part of the Core Strategy then much less green belt would need to be released.
? The two proposed new industrial sites will also be on Green Belt land.
? There is no actual evidence that the Council has undertaken a comprehensive and detailed (in planning terms) comparative assessment of the impact of the CS Locations, in that they are identified for places of housing growth, in terms of the impact on green belt, the effect on the landscape and highways. Were the alternatives put forward under the “Call for Sites” properly evaluated and evidenced?
2. No justification or consultation regarding how the proposed total of 3,800 new homes has been calculated. The council turned down a motion from two members in this regard.
? There is now no proposed development proposed for Rayleigh over the first 15 years yet, according to the published Core Strategy (para 2.38 page 30), the greatest demand for housing is in Rayleigh at 44.4% of the District?s total. There is something wrong here.
? Have the alternatives been properly evaluated and evidenced?
This lack of consultation and inconsistency means the proposals are unsound.
3. Lack of appropriate infrastructure and distributed approach negates economies of scale. Existing ‘back of a fag packet’ [RDC/ECC quote] estimates of ?50-75M are unsubstantiated (and could increase) but still equate to ?14/21K standard charges per dwelling. Is this viable, particularly for “Affordable Housing” and the plan sustainable?
4. Development proposals for the first phase are concentrated in the centre of the district where the infrastructure, based on historical country lanes, cannot cope with existing traffic ? there are a number of bottlenecks across this part of the District and being systemic in nature will not be improved by the relatively small improvements provided by the developments proposed.
? There is no evidence that the consolidated impact of all the various developments on highways has been assessed.
? Proposed phasing will focus initial developments in the centre of the district (Hockley/Ashingdon/ Hawkwell/Rochford) but delay access road improvements in West of district until end of programme resulting in road chaos for years.
? No consideration appears to have been given to mapping highways improvements to the housing phasing. As with other environmental issues, the capacity of the highways network should be assessed formally with consideration of the cumulative effects of other developments. The highways plan is unsound and not sustainable.
5. The Core Strategy only takes into account Flood risk identified by the Enviromental Agency which is flovial based (tidal) and does not take into account Surface Water flooding risk. This is despite the fact that majority of flooding in the area has been caused by the latter and a combination of both.
? Aviva Insurance were not content with the Environmental Agencies evaluation they conducted their own that included Surface Water and number of claims for an area. This was because flooding was and still is a major concern to their revenue stream so they needed to identify properly all types of flooding risks.
? An additional point that is not captured by either the Environmental Agency or Aviva is there is no need to report flooding occuring reguarly in a field, only local people know about this. It is wrong for the Core Strategy to only consider Flovial flood risk.
The Core Strategy is therefore unsound.
6. Gypsy sites – the proposals provide for 14 pitches by 2014 but no indication is given of where these should be sited. This issue has caused a lot of concern to many residents who favour a single, manageable site in a location with good road access and all appropriate services and the proposals are unsound and, probably, unsustainable.
? Gypsy/Traveller sites must be positioned in locations that have the best access to transport links and services. It is essential that any gypsy/traveller site developments are matched by appropriate infrastructure such as established road networks, water / gas / electric supply, mains sewerage, access for refuse / recycling collection, and access to healthcare and schools.
? The choice of a suitable site(s) must ensure that such communities can be appropriately integrated, and promote the right level of community cohesion for these people. Inappropriate location of Gypsies and Travellers would not bring about desired cohesion, and if a poor choice is made by the Council this could lead to exactly the opposite and disharmonious relationships between communities and the local community would transpire.
? In the light of the above, and in line with previous recommendations, if it is decided that Gypsies and Travellers must be accommodated on ?official? sites, then such sites are best suited to the west of the district. Any loss of countryside, greenbelt and open spaces in and around Hockley is considered unacceptable when there are known alternative locations that would be better suit mutual Council and Traveller needs.
7. The last consultation on the DPD Allocations was in April and is believed to have ‘attracted’ a record level of responses but has not even been considered by the council 6 months later. This reflects the generally inadequate consultation during the entire process and means the Core Strategy is undemocratic and consequently the proposals are unsound.”

  • Lots to write about here Brian. I certainly agree it’s deplorable that RDC has even discussed the last lot of consultation results.

    Regarding paragraph 2, Rayleigh has borne the brunt of housing for the district in the past. In Downhall and Rawreth ward alone we have had more than 600 new dwellings. Development in Rayleigh has nearly reached the parish boundary – there aren’t suitable sites in Rayleigh to build that many again

    It’s ironic that the last phase of development – Priory Chase and Temple Way – produced Cherry Orchard Country Park as a splendid asset in another part of the district. Whereas the much smaller area of sports pitches at the end of Priory Chase still isn’t ready for use. Somethings wrong there!

  • Chris,

    To clarify, theses are not my personal views. They represent consensus suggested objections and have been put together by the emerging Big Society that David Camerson is promoting, comprised of disillusioned representatives from villages across the District. We hope many people across the District will join us in sending a clear message that the Core Strategy is unpopular and inappropriate.
    Building nearly 1500 houses in the middle of the District, with no meaningful road improvements will affect everyone, including the west of the District and are likely to result in road chaos for decades.
    I’ve sent Admin a summary of the proposals, which is something RDC have conspicuously not produced. I hope this will be published so everyone can see exactly how they will be affected and note the 67% (+ 2 industrial estates) on greenbelt land.
    The worm is being to turn – watch out RDC!

  • I agree we have had far more housing in Rayleigh than was advisable. It is very encouraging that groups of residents and some Councillors of a similar mind have grouped together and are making their views much more audible and are opposing the Councils demands on us. RDC are very much a council that do not take residents views seriously as they would have us believe with their questionnaires etc. The construction industry has far too much clout over our planners. RDC please listen to what we, as residents want from you, not what you want from us!

  • Another RDC cover up?
    On Friday morning I reported a problem with the tick boxes in RDC Online System. At lunchtime the council said there are no tick boxes as the council wanted a simple system. By evening the council had amended the problem (although still unclear) and now are retaining the tick boxes as the system is simple.
    So a complete U turn in one afternoon!
    I believe the system is not user friendly and this turns people off using it. If paper submissions are used instead,the council refuses to publish them (over 800 from the last consultation in April have still not been published or considered by the council.
    This is how democracy works in Rochford!

  • The offical line is that 67% of new housing is on green belt but this is only achieved by counting 2 industrial sites (Eldon Way & Rayleigh) as brownnfield. In fact they are being forcibly moved to greenbelt, so effectively a whopping 89% of new houses will be on greenbelt! And the council claims it is protecting the greenbelt!!

  • Brian, this has never been a council who has protected the greenbelt. The only reason that they have not built on most of our greenbelt is resident intervention. We should have the last say over what the council can do!

  • I mentioned above that there are several problems with the RDC Online Consultation system. Its now emerged that the consultation is entitled “Core Strategy Development Plan Document”.
    Until now we have had 2 seperate processes::
    1) the Core Strategy (none of these have ever been called DPD before)
    2) The Allocations DPD.

    the council are now merging the titles, which simply adds confusion to the numerous other errors. RDC say this is OK.
    I think the council should be big enough to acknowledge its errors, put them right and restart the consultation. What confidence can we have in the integrity of the council’s planning process when obvious cover-ups like this are allowed to happen?

  • Brian has kindly let me review the correspondence.

    I understand the issues raised and I have written to Shaun Scrutton to ask him to agree to Brian’s request which is reasonable given the importance of a satisfactory basis for consultation and to meet the standards that must be applied to all public consultations.

  • Thank you John.
    I hope that other District Councillors reading this will support this request to ensure that the Online Consulgtation is ‘fit for purpose’ and the consultation seen to be open and fair.

  • strong>Update.

    Shaun does not agree that there should be a suspension on the basis of what Brian has had to say.

    I have raised another issue with Shaun about what I consider to be a Question that could be ambiguous and bearing in mind that he has confirmed that this could be used as a filter for the Inspector to READ or NOT READ the representation this is obviously IMPORTANT !!

    Did you raise the matter that is the subject of your representation with the Council earlier in the process of the preparation of the document, ie before it was submitted for examination? Yes / No

    If yes, which stage (Issues & Options or Preferred Options) or if no, why not?

    Shaun’s reply is as follows;

    This consultation relates to a schedule of changes to the submission plan.

    If a consultee is raising points that relate to the schedule of changes, then it would not have been possible to have raised these points previously and therefore I would answer NO. For example, it would not have been possible to have raised issues about 2031 being the end date for the plan since this is a change proposed in the schedule of changes.

    If on the other hand a respondent wants to reiterate concerns previously made about the principle of identifying Green Belt land for development, the answer would be YES.

    Whilst it may be the case that a respondent might want to raise items that were previously submitted, if their representation also includes any specific points that relate to the information in the schedule of changes, the answer must still be NO.

    Ultimately, this question does nothing more than provide some assistance to the Inspector in identifying new issues and will also be useful for RDC in preparing an analysis of the representations to forward to the Inspector.

  • John,
    Shaun’s original email to me states that this (and other) questions were supposed to have been deleted from the system, so it is entirely superfluous anyway!
    My own submission includes 7 separate points, so the answer to this question should be “yes” AND “No”. Should I lie?

  • At no time today did Shaun say in correspondence with me that the question or all questions was going to be deleted by agreement with you.

    You will have to ask him how you can say YES and NO at the same time !! It is impossible at the moment.

    Don’t you think that having had an issue raised by a Member of the District Council that he would have told me that my representation was “superfluous” as you suggest?

    But as an independent Member (the only one opn the Council) perhaps I would not need to know what he has obviously agreed with you?

    I was only trying to help residents deal with a difficult question if they wished to use the Online Consultation.

    But if you say that the Questions will be deleted then I am wasting my time !!

  • I do have sympathy with the council in as much that it is difficult to please everybody, however I cannot have symphathy with this council or its employees when it upsets so many of the residents. An elected council should listen to its residents, it should act on what its residents conveys to its councillors and what it expects its councillors to do. I am ashamed to be a resident of this district because of how our council ride roughshod over us. Housing development is a huge issue, did they listen to the residents of Rayleigh, A BIG FAT NO, until we demonstrated at that West Area Committee meeting a few years ago. No one is saying they have a smooth ride but for gods sake, listen to what we are saying rather than bowing to developers! I fear this will fall on deaf ears. Maybe they just do not know how to listen?

  • Sorry John, Shaun hasn’t agreed that questions would be deleted. This is what he said:
    “The consultation process does not include any questions relating to the legal compliance or soundness. Can I ask where you found this in the system? The response arrangements for the schedule of changes has deliberately been made as simple as possible. Once logged in, it is simply a matter of entering the details of the representation and whether you support of object and want to be kept informed.”
    Clearly that didn’t happen and Shaun is now defending retaining the questions, so chaos and a complete U turn.
    Perhaps people should use paper responses instead – but RDC do not post them either.
    Oh dear, the course of democracy never runs smoothly!

  • Interesting to see the total Chaos on the roads tonight (Tuesday) due to 1 incident on the A127 near Progress Road (where did that name come from, it couldn’t be more wrong). Traffic queueing back to Basildon, A13 and A129 (through Wickford and Rayleigh) crawling, Rawreth Lane queueing right back to the A1245. I had to take my daughter to a swimming lesson at Sweyne School, and it took 30 minutes door to door. I refuse to go along Downhall Road due to the poor junction by the Travellers Joy, but joining the A1245 I started queueing outside the travellers’ site instead, and was stop-start all the way to Sweyne.

    The roads can’t cope, and spending time sat in traffic for such short journeys (or any journeys starting or finishing in the district) is a real quality of life issue.

  • Yep, we were stuck in the same traffic ourselves. It just shows that the road network can’t cope with just one incident without grinding to a near-halt.

    No solution without new roads – or a substantial increase in car sharing.

    I hope nobody was hurt at Progress Road (which Mrs B is currently calling Regress Road!)